Question: If I am not persecuted, am I not following Christ?
To “live godly in Christ” means faithfully living a life that puts Jesus on display, showing and sharing Him in a world that rejects His message and His gospel. Jesus said in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt 5-7) that we are blessed when we live in a way that pursues and manifests His righteousness. We are not blessed by the world, that’s for sure! No! Jesus says we are blessed by our faithfulness to Him, both in this life and the life to come! Being persecuted for Christ results in a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. He goes on to say what true persecution looks like — casting insults against you, hunting you down, ridiculing you and falsely accusing and slandering you (Matt 5:10-11). He then gives the reason for this type of verbal and physical abuse — it is on “account of Me.” We will be despised and persecuted for reflecting Him . . . for attitudes and actions that look like Jesus! So where’s the blessing?? The apostle Peter says it this way, “if you are reviled for the name of Christ you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and God rests upon you (1 Peter 4:14).”
So, here’s the point:
First, our identification with Christ and the faithful display of His character is to be the cause of genuine “persecution.”
Second, because we as Christians are fallen sinners, we are sometimes guilty of avoiding persecution.
Why do we avoid persecution sometimes? Because there is a cost to following Jesus . . . “deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Me” (Matt 10:24). Dying to your ways, your ideas of right and wrong, your view about what’s good and fair and just is all part of what it means to be a Christian. By definition, a Christian is a Christ-follower!
Third, Jesus’ call to “deny ourselves” and our faithfulness to follow Him is directly related to the fervency of our love, trust and obedience toward Him and His Word (John 15).
Are you purposing to live for Christ and put Him on display? Are you passionate about pursuing a life of purity? Are you faithfully reflecting His righteousness at home, work, even during times of recreation? If not, why not? It may be that you’re consumed with the things of this world and yourself!
If you have no desire to follow Christ, to serve and glorify Him, then there is serious reason for concern (Matt 10:33). Examine your heart and life to see if you’ve become too comfortable with living for self and the world? If you have repent and return to your first love! (Rev 2:4-6)
. . .”if anyone suffers as a Christian let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let Him glorify God” (1 Peter 4:16)